Toronto’s live tunes scene is relocating to the suburbs with new concert venues to the north

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The Bowl at Sobeys Stadium in the heart of the York University campus can hold much more than 9,000 individuals in its concert configuration.Handout

Toronto’s live music scene is looking up in 2024. Up, as in the northern reaches of the metropolis – the bungalow belt earlier mentioned Highway 401. With two new venues that contain an underused tennis stadium and a 5,000-seater in a not long ago opened megacasino, promoters are gambling that Toronto is not only seeking up but escalating up.

“The volume of organization is below,” Jeff Craib claimed of North America’s 3rd-biggest concert current market, following New York and Los Angeles. “Toronto is a experienced international town, and there ought to be venue solutions for not only supporters, but for the artists.”

Craib is the co-owner and main govt officer of the Feldman Company, a well-proven leisure talent firm built and formerly owned by Sam Feldman that represents some of the country’s most illustrious artists, such as Avril Lavigne, Shania Twain and Bryan Adams. In partnership with Tennis Canada and York College, Craib and the company are moving into the live performance marketing business with the institution of the Bowl at Sobeys Stadium, an open-air venue in North York built for serves, volleys and Rafael Nadals.

Located in the heart of the York College campus, the stadium can accommodate up to 9,100 people in its live performance configuration. The venue is now applied for occasions like the yearly Nationwide Bank Open up global tennis match in the summer and the York convocation ceremony in the spring. The nevertheless-to-be-introduced summer concert season for 2024 will fill in dates with new music and comedy in a venue that otherwise normally sits darkish.

“It’s just sitting below,” Craib stated, top a tour of the location final month.

To the west, the Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto adjacent to Woodbine Racetrack just played host to Tom Cochrane at its new location, the Theatre, on New Year’s Eve. “Life is a highway,” the veteran rocker sang, and, for thousands and thousands of people of the Increased Toronto Region, these multilane roadways are certainly a way of day by day daily life.

“We are very easily available from the 401 and 427 highways, and we are 10 minutes absent from the airport,” explained Gavin Whiteley, chief advertising and marketing officer of Fantastic Canadian Amusement, which owns Fantastic Canadian Casino Vacation resort Toronto and two dozen other gambling, hospitality and enjoyment properties throughout Canada. “This is an space with a growing desire for entertainment, and there is no other venue in the vicinity.”

The room’s formal grand opening will take position on May possibly 3, with a concert by singer Gwen Stefani. Nation crooner Blake Shelton performs a person night later.

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The Bowl was utilised this past summer season for the National Financial institution Open international tennis tournament.Peter Electricity/Handout

Around the yrs, music fans in the city’s outskirts have been sporadically serviced. Arrow Corridor, in Mississauga, was a normal prevent for worldwide punk-pop acts and the Vans Warped Tour via the early 2000s. But it has extended dropped off the touring map.

Several Torontonians have fond reminiscences of Kingswood Audio Theatre, a 15,000-seat amphitheatre situated at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ont. Opened in 1983, the facility performed host to such artists as Don Henley, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Bette Midler, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, the Fugees and, consistently, Kim Mitchell.

“I grew up at Bathurst and Steeles, and I used to go to all the demonstrates at Kingswood,” explained unbiased tunes manager Jake Gold. “Back then, that was exactly where you went to see summer time demonstrates.”

In 1995, nonetheless, the recently developed downtown Molson Amphitheatre (now Budweiser Stage) started squeezing the suburban bandshell out of business. After 2011, it was shuttered.

The waterfront Budweiser Stage, owned and operated by concert promotion behemoth Live Nation Canada, is continue to there. If Kingswood and its close by roller coasters could not contend back again then, how will the Feldman Company make a go of it now with its Bowl in the burbs?

The location may possibly very well operate in its favour. The venue is as accessible by car (with some 7,700 parking spots) as it is by community transit (Pioneer Village TTC station). Meanwhile, due to the fact of website traffic congestion, Budweiser Phase can be an ingress-egress headache.

“Getting downtown these days is not as simple as it used to be,” claims Gold, who manages the affairs of the retired Tragically Hip, among other Canadian functions.

Evaluating the facilities on their own, Sobeys Stadium provides 20 govt bins with outdoor seating that Budweiser Stage just can’t match. And since the rows of stadium seats at Sobeys are banked steeply, the venue is substantially far more personal than the sprawling seating arrangement at Budweiser Phase. As well, like the historic created-for-tennis Forest Hills Stadium in New York, which has held culturally substantial performances by Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan around the several years, Sobeys presents fully unobstructed sights.

Still, all that won’t make a difference if the Feldman Agency cannot place high-quality product or service in front of fans.

“It’s definitely all about the acts,” Gold stated. “The building has respectable infrastructure, and if the Feldman Company can set enough fantastic talent in there, it’s a wonderful chance.”

The Feldman Agency has small working experience in advertising and marketing live shows. What it has a whole lot of is talent. Its steady consists of crooners (Michael Bublé), pop icons (Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan), opera divas (Measha Brueggergosman-Lee), indie stars (Feist, Bahamas), R&B and hip-hop artists (Alessia Cara, Snotty Nose Rez Youngsters) and Can-Con legacy rockers (April Wine, Barenaked Ladies, Trooper, Chilliwack). Also, comedians and specialist wrestlers.

Evidently the agency has an abundance of expertise to attract on to enable fill a 2024 summer months period of 15 concert events and a 2025 plan and past that is anticipated to double in dates each year. Playing his cards close to the vest, Craib mentioned he expects to leverage the agency’s romantic relationship with its artists “only when it helps make sense.” He did let that they’ve had some “pretty very good receptivity” in preliminary conversations with their artists.

All advised, regardless of the entry to high quality expertise? “It’s a lot to set collectively,” he explained. “It’s not for the faint of heart.”

Craib would know. He was with the Feldman Agency in 2011 when it booked functions for the Black Creek New music Competition of a dozen pop and classical concert events at the tennis facility then acknowledged as Rexall Centre. The celebration was run by Garth Drabinsky, a showbiz mogul convicted for fraud and forgery in 2009.

The formidable but poorly arranged festival, which booked John Fogerty, Placido Domingo, Diana Krall, the London Symphony Orchestra and other A-listing functions, was cancelled just after one calamitous season.

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‘We are conveniently obtainable from the 401 and 427 highways, and we are 10 minutes away from the airport,’ said Gavin Whiteley, chief advertising and marketing officer of Good Canadian Leisure, which owns Good Canadian Casino Resort Toronto, above.Jeremy Chan/Handout

Continue to, the concept to present tunes at the stadium was not completely composed off. “We guaranteed saw what not to do,” Craib reported. “But it also planted the seed in my head, ‘Hey, this could actually perform.’ ”

At first blush, the latest announcement by the Feldman Agency of its concert events at the stadium would seem to be a shot across the bow of Stay Country, which owns and operates an growing amount of venues in Toronto. According to Craib, having said that, it is not a ability move from Canada’s dominant promoter: “It’s a lot more about the marketplace and the shortage of possibilities.”

Certainly, Budweiser Phase can only maintain so a lot of acts every year. According to Are living Country, its venue played host to a history 65 displays and some 850,000 lovers in 2023.

The fact is, that if an act desires to enjoy Toronto outside in the warm months, there are couple options outside of Budweiser Stage and festival web sites at Downsview Park, Fort York or, further afield, Burl’s Creek Function Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ont.

And when more youthful audiences have no difficulties with competition fields, more mature admirers may be captivated to at ease environs at Sobeys Stadium. “People in their 50s never want to stand in the dust,” Craib reasoned.

As for competing with Live Country, Craib and the Feldman Company will actually be partnering on some concert events with that enterprise and fellow titan promoters AEG Throughout the world as nicely.

Reside Country is also the exceptional concert reserving companion with Wonderful Canadian Entertainment for the latter’s 6 Canadian audio rooms that incorporate the Theatre at the Toronto casino and lodge. Jointly they co-endorse demonstrates at suburban venues that draw in more mature audiences who take pleasure in the effortless-minded but excitable pleasures delivered by slot equipment.

“There’s a need for stay new music in these locations, and we’re filling it,” said Great Canadian Entertainment’s Whiteley. “We’ve all professional downtown congestion, and even though we may possibly glance much absent on the map, for many supporters it takes less time to get here.”

It isn’t only the followers who respect the accessibility of highway-friendly live performance web pages. Effortless in-and-out logistics are the dream of any tour supervisor worth his selection of Rand McNallys. Additionally, a gambling-dwelling gig in Toronto as a substitute of a demonstrate even more north at Casino Rama in Orillia shaves hrs off the itinerary.

For Wonderful Canadian Amusement and the Feldman Agency, the dice are remaining rolled on the viability of venues on the outskirts. “To us, it just will make sense,” Craib mentioned. “Now we’re likely to obtain out.”